The Naughty Baptist

Best Books of 2019

I read some great books during 2019, but the following really stand out.

The books are:

Feel free to follow along with me this year on Goodreads.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Most people (including me) assume that racist policies and discriminatory practices stem from ignorance and hatred. Dr Kendi argues quite powerfully that this is not the case. Instead, racist ideas are used to justify discriminatory policies and racial inequalities.

Dr. Kendi uses five people as the framework for the book's narrative: Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Angela Davis. Each person is used as a thread which runs through a specific period of American history. The book covers a lot of ground quickly.

Well researched, well written, deeply moving, well researched and argued, this book is required reading. It shows how even our heroes are not perfect, and how contradictory our own views can be.

The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby

This was a painful book to read, but utterly necessary.

I did not grow up in church, and since becoming a Christian at 17, I have spent my time in predominately white congregations. I've learned a lot, and corrected some bad ideas I was taught early on. Still, I have a lot of blind spots.

This book puts a spotlight on a lot of them. Primarily, not only that the American church has failed to fight racism, but that often it has been complicit.

I've been a fan of Tisby for years, and this book shows how solid a researcher and writer he is.

One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin M. Kruse

So I have not finished this book, but it immediately earned a spot on my best-of list.

Kruse covers the rise of Christian nationalism in America. Quite honestly, it's heartbreaking to see how some good intentions get co-opted by some for financial gain.

The prevailing idea held by many is that the religious revival grew as a way of distinguishing the US from the atheistic Soviet Union. However, Kruse documents that most of the rise of the Religious Right was in reaction to the  New Deal and associated policies. The "freedom under God" movement rallied opposition to anything that hindered big business.

I grew tired of the marriage of the cross and the flag years ago. This book is helping me understand how we got here.

Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas

Why should the people who run businesses that create so many social problems be the ones to solve them? Why not simply tax them and let the people decide how best to solve the problems?

Those are very good questions. Giridharadas breaks down how big business works to protect itself and shut down criticism.

Very eye-opening.

Every Tool's a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It by Adam Savage

Adam Savage is a treasure. This book is both his permission slip for you to follow your creativity, and a practical guide to getting the most out of yourself.

I loved it. Savage reads the audiobook himself, and I highly recommend you get it.

Binti (Binti, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor

I read all three books in the trilogy. Unlike anything I've ever read. Okorafor labels what she writes as Africanfuturism.

Binti is a young, gifted woman, and the first of the Himba people to be offered a place at Oomza University. Things rapidly go wrong, and she uses her wits and her intelligence to survive and bring warring races together.

Everything in this series was new to me. And the third book almost literally caused me to drop my jaw at one point.

Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman, #1) by Neil Gaiman

I have never read this series. I picked up the first one at the opening of Neighborhood Comics, mostly on a whim. Hoo boy.

I love this series. Several books in, still having a lot of fun with it.